Catastrophic engine failure is the outcome of a timing chain tensioner failure in any vehicle. However, it has become an increasingly common issue amongst the owners of manyt Audi or Volkswagens, specifically with the a 2.0TSI engine. Usually, the timing chain tensioner in any vehicle will not require any maintenance, but the timing belt often needs to be replaced after about 100,000 miles. If you experience a timing chain tensioner failure, it will likely require a minimum of an expensive fix, but depending on the severity, it may also require an engine replacement.
What is the timing chain tensioner? The timing chain tensioner is located under the timing chain cover on the front of the engine. The timing chain connects the crankshaft to the camshaft, and the tensioner is used to keep the appropriate amount of tension on the chain. Over time, the timing chain will stretch but the tensioner is in place to ensure that the chain stays in the correct spot under the correct amount of tension. If the tensioner were to fail, there is nothing keeping the chain in place.
If the timing chain isn’t in place and breaks while the vehicle is running, the valves will be open, and the piston will hit the valves, causing the vehicle to stop running almost immediately. It does often take some time for the timing chain to completely break, and when the tensioner fails, it is more likely the chain will be off just slightly. If you are able to recognize the signs before the chain breaks, you are less likely to need an engine replacement.
What are the signs of timing chain tensioner failure? If you think you may have an Audi that has a 2.0TSI engine, it is best to take a look before you even begin to experience issues with the timing chain tensioner. The Audis that usually fall into that category are Audi A3/A4 models produced between 2008 and 2013. If the engine cover has the letters “TSI” then your Audi more than likely will have issues with the timing chain tensioner, and it should be inspected and replaced as soon as warranted.
However, if your Audi doesn’t fall into that category, you will still want to be aware of the possible signs in case you begin to experience a timing chain tensioner failure. The most common way to tell if the timing chain tensioner is beginning to fail is if you hear a rattling or something under the hood is making a sound that sounds like metal on metal. This rattling is coming from the chain specifically, and over time, continuous rattling can wear a hole in the timing chain cover, causing an oil leak. If you experience not only a metal on metal rattling noise, but also an oil leak, it is best to bring your vehicle in as soon as possible to have the timing chain tensioner inspected for possible failure.